CategoryGreen Living

Sustainability and Minimalism

I want to chat about how sustainability led me to minimalism and how I really think that they are connected. I really became interested in sustainability through studying fashion design and learning the impact of fast fashion and while researching how to produce clothing more sustainably I kept coming to the idea that the problem is not really using polyester over organic cotton although that does contribute to it. The root of the problem is just the amount of clothes that are being produced and also thrown away. According to “The True Cost” 80 billion new garments are purchased in one year and that’s up 400% from 20 years ago. So we’re buying more clothes than ever and this doesn’t just have to do with clothes people are buying bigger houses to fill with more stuff, constantly the newest technology, hundreds of beauty products, and filling fridges with food that doesn’t get eaten. All of these things require resources there’s pollution from manufacturing and transportation often environmental impact with the use and then a lot of them unfortunately just get thrown away and end up in the landfills where they don’t biodegrade.

Now I have a more simple living approach to minimalism I guess. I don’t see minimalism as trying to live with as little as you possibly can I think it’s about living with the things that you actually use and need and enjoy having around. That totally changes the way that you view stuff and it’s no longer about shopping for that excitement of buying something new because we all know that that fades away. Then you have to keep shopping to continuously have that feeling of owning something new but if all of your things have value and a function in your life you not only appreciate them more and you don’t need to buy new things all the time but, you also see when something that you might want to purchase doesn’t really have a function or value in your life. Then you know that you don’t need it.

In general buying less things means that you can often invest more in the things that you do choose to purchase and buy things that are higher quality and going to last a lot longer. Invest in manufactured products that use sustainable materials and are just generally much more responsible and care about their impact

It’s interesting because the stuff that I own has become both less important and more important. It’s become much less important in the sense of you know the way I see myself and define success because I think a lot of us sort of were fed the idea of that having a lot of stuff somehow means your more successful and happier and you know buying things and having new things we equate with happiness which is ridiculous. So they become much less important in that sense and then more important in the sense that the things I do choose to own I want to either support companies that I really believe in that I think are doing great things in terms of ethics and sustainability or things that are having much less of an impact than something new would, so buying second hand which I also really love. The things that I do own are so much more valuable to me than they were like with my clothes for example set of having closet just bursting with all kinds of pieces that I didn’t really care about I now I have pieces that I really like that I enjoy wearing and that I feel good in.

There are two aspects though that are often talks about or related to minimalism that I don’t think fit so well with the sustainable benefits and those are the idea that you should just have a massive declutter and get rid of everything and not really care about where it goes and buying new stuff to fit maybe a more minimalist aesthetic and I do think sometimes content focuses a bit too much on the decluttering aspect and not enough on the actual purchasing and accumulating stuff aspect. That to me is really where the sustainability component comes in. Some people talk about you know just get it out of your life get rid of it and I don’t think that’s such a good approach I think it is really important to make sure that the things that you’re getting rid of are either being donated to an organization or a company that can use them or given to other people. We have a responsibility for the stuff that we’ve bought and accumulated to try and get rid of it in as a responsible way as we possibly can so it’s not just going into the landfill.

I’ve also seen people asking questions about a capsule wardrobe, for example, if you should get rid of all your clothes and then by a capsule wardrobe and that’s definitely not a sustainable approach. For sure use whatever you have. When I started my capsule wardrobe I actually decided I didn’t want to buy anything new for quite awhile until I really got a sense of what I needed in my capsule wardrobe and what I wanted to purchase so that I could purchase things that I knew would work really well. The second thing is a lot of people follow the one in one out rule which I totally understand it’s a great way to make sure that you don’t just re-accumulate stuff it’s also a good way to assess the stuff that you buy to make sure that you know you’re buying something that you actually want and you want it enough to get rid of something else but I think sometimes it’s sold as sort of a well you can buy something new as long as you get rid of something so that you have this continuous rotation of stuff with a closet for example so that you kind of are able to constantly rotate clothes and have new clothes that’s obviously not a great sustainable approach either. The idea of having things and using them as long as you possibly can and taking care of them so that you can use them a long time that’s kind of the root of where sustainability and minimalism really work together. If you don’t take on the minimalist label or adopt a fully minimalistic lifestyle there are still so many great things to take away from the idea of just assessing what our connection is to the stuff that we buy and why we buy what we buy and I think really the way to combat mindless mass consumption is just to think a bit more about the things that we purchase.

So I hope you have enjoyed this article. I love to hear your thoughts and remember think about what you buy before you buy it, you most likely don’t need it.

How to Build A Fertile Soil With Free and Local Products to Mulch and Compost Your Garden

During the fall when the summer crops have come and gone and the garden beds are now empty and they’re not growing anything. Just because they’re empty doesn’t mean you can’t build the soil fertility over the winter. I’m going to tell you how to use free and local resources to do just that. Mulching garden beds is a great practice to help build your soil fertility. Probably the best thing to mulch it with is finished compost. The nutrients are immediately available for the nutrient cycle and it usually comes with a high concentration of beneficial bacteria and organisms like earthworms that will help break down other mulch materials.

I simply lay the finished compost on top in a one inch layer. I make sure to pull back any under-composted or mulch materials. I do not mix it in so that I don’t damage any of the beneficial organisms like fungi that are in the soil. Autumn leaves are great resource that quite literally fall from the sky. They have a wide variety of trace elements and carbon. In fact, of the fifteen commonly essential elements, autumn leaves have eleven of the fifteen. When broken down they add these nutrients to the nutrient cycle and the carbon material adds humus that retains water and provide habitat for soil borne bacterial organisms.

I usually add a thick layer to the garden as it will help insulate the soil from the harshest winter temperatures. By spring the volume will have decreased and decomposed. One thing that autumn leaves don’t have a lot of is nitrogen. For this we’re going to turn to a resource you generate in your kitchen. Used coffee grounds and tea leaves are often tossed in the trash, but they’re a valuable resource to add to the garden. They have a lot of the elements that your plants need. Tea leaves also have twelve of the fifteen essential elements that were looking for and are a valuable addition to any mulch layer.

I usually sprinkle them directly on top of the autumn leaves making sure not to apply more than a centimeter or two in any one area. If over applied you can slow the decomposition processes. I commonly add eggshells my mulch layer as well. They’re comprised of over 40% calcium, but it’s immediately available to your plants upon release from the shell. Egg shells also have a wide variety of elements including nitrogen. They have nine of the fifteen essential elements and most importantly they contain significant quantities of selenium, which is often not found in other free and local resources.

Egg shells are easy to add to the mulch layer. I usually let them dry out in my shed for a few months. This will help reduce any potential of bacterial colonization. Once dry and brittle I crush the shells and roughly sprinkle them on top of my mulch layer. Not only can you take materials that would otherwise become trash you could literally grow your own fertilizer at home.

Comfrey is a plant that sends down a deep taproot and is able to collect nutrients from the mineral layer and bring them to the surface as part of their leaves. I use the leaves as part of the mulch layer helping to deposit these nutrients where the garden plants can have access to them. Comfrey contains all fifteen of the essential elements. In order to keep things in place and start the decomposition process I’ll make sure to give the mulch layer a quick water. When you’re applying mulch near live plants, such as a perennial, make sure not to apply an overly thick layer. All these materials when combined in larger quantities can form a hot compost. Hot compost near a root system can cause significant damage.

When combined and used in a mulch layer or in the creation of compost these free and local resources often have more than enough nutrients to allow you to grow healthy organic vegetables year after year. If combined with other free and local methods such as cover crops, wood ash, and human urine. I am confident anyone can go product free in their garden while producing vast amounts of healthy organic crops. If you would like additional information on the free and local resources I mentioned make sure to drop me a line and stay tuned for future articles. Thank you for reading and I appreciate it very much and I hope you have a fantastic day.


4 Simple Tips to Live More Green Everyday

I don’t think anyone intentionally wants to hurt the environment. It’s assumed that it’s inconvenient and more work to perform activities that have a huge impact on the environment. I’m going to tell you a few ways that you can live more “green” that are simple to implement.

Capture Rain Water

First is rain capture. When you have a small garden you can either turn on the hose or use the water that falls from the sky. Rain capture systems are becoming more and more avoidable and they capture the rain water and store it so you can use it whenever you need it. It’s a great way to lower your utility bills and the water supply is not likely to run out anytime soon!

Scraps in Compost Pile

The next thing is composting biodegradable scraps. When you have that morning banana or fruit salad for dinner, instead of throwing away all the scraps throw them in a bag and take them out back to turn into organic soil. This is great for your garden and can save you lots of money instead of buying organic soil from the home improvement stores.

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

An obvious method is to recycle. Recycling has been around for years but it’s still one of the best methods to stay green. The best way to incorporate this into your life is to have four trash can type containers.

The first can should be for plastics, the next for glass, the next should be for biodegradable waste, and the last is for non-recyclable trash. The biodegradable container should be able to be dropped directly into your compost pile. Typical plastics that can be recycled are milk containers, soda bottles, and plastic food containers. Typical glass that can be recycled is glass food jars and cosmetic containers. Some items are just not recyclable and those will actually be thrown away. For this I’m talking about certain types of laminated paper, treated or contaminated wood, insulation or light bulbs etc. Being green is trying to reuse and recycle as many products as possible to minimize their impact on the environment.

Keep Your Utility Bills in Check

Lastly, a great way to not only lower your utility bills and have a great impact on the environment is to install solar panels. Solar panels take advantage of the sunlight during the day to offset your power usage during the day and night. Solar panels are getting cheaper by the day and it’s financially feasible to purchase enough panels to completely take yourself off the grid. Also try to open your blinds and use natural light as much as possible. That way you can get the necessary light without actually turning on your lights and adding to your power bill.

These are some simple ways to live more “green” and these will have a direct impact on your life and the environment. If everyone were to incorporate these simple ideas into their life, our planet would be so much better off and everyone would be living healthier as a whole. If you have other ideas that I didn’t mention above please reach out. Happy living and continue to live green!